Sawtry woman relives horror crash ordeal and thanks Magpas
A WOMAN who suffered horrifying burns to her face and hands in a road collision which also claimed the life of her younger brother has spoken publicly of her ordeal for the first time.
Sam Lyon, of The Granary, Sawtry was just seven years old when the car she and her brother Anthony were travelling in was hit by a lorry at a junction near Bassingbourn.
The car was catapaulted into the air and burst into flames. Anthony, who was five, died immediately. Sam’s mother, Cynthia Spillman, who was driving, and Sam were rescued from the burning vehicle by a passing stranger.
Cynthia, 52, suffered superficial burns and a fracture, but her daughter was severely burnt and had a broken leg.
Sam, now 31 and a physiotherapist at Papworth Hospital, remembers very little about the incident which left her needing extensive plastic surgery.
It was only when discussing her partner Dr Chris Targett’s plan to do a solo trip around the world for medical emergency charity Magpas with her mother, she learnt one of her rescuers had been a Magpas doctor.
Sam said: “I remember lying by the side of the road that day, but nothing else. I never knew Magpas came out that day. I mentioned to mum that Chris was doing this big trip and she said ‘That must be because of Sam.’ I had no idea Magpas had been there.
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“This just seems the perfect chance to say thank you to them and to raise awareness of what Chris is doing and the work they do.”
The family had stopped at the junction of the A1198 and A603 when a lorry, which had been overtaking a tractor, went straight into the back of their car.
The passerby who rescued Sam and her mother remains to this day unidentified. A couple who lived near the accident also rushed to help as did a group of soldiers on their way from Bassingbourn Barracks.
Dr John Hedges, a GP at Royston for 32 years and volunteer Magpas doctor for nearly 20 years, was the first medic on the scene, and remembers giving Sam pain relief.
He said: “When I arrived, being based where we were, I was first on the scene. I was faced with a seven year old girl in tremendous pain from the burns.
“I knew she needed pain relief, but one of the problems was that because of the burns, the normal sites for an intravenous injection were not possible.
“In that second, you have to make a quick decision. Afterwards watching the ambulance drive off, you are thinking ‘Did I do the right thing?’ I have a whole host of memories from the day. You always hope that you have done your best.”
The pair were rushed to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. Over the course of nine years, Sam endured 15 operations including skin grafts from her legs and arms to her face and hands, and operations to reconstruct her eyelids and encourage hair regrowth.
Chris, 34, will be setting off on a 21,000 mile journey through Europe, Africa and Asia in February. He hopes to raise �100,000 for Magpas and African medical charity Riders for Health.
He needs �10,000 in sponsorship to cover petrol costs on his journey.